You may have heard the distressing news today that Fred Willard, a fine comic actor whose work I've always enjoyed, was arrested for performing an obscene public act at a porn theater on Santa Monica Blvd called the Tiki Theater. I used to be intrigued by the place because of the cool tiki signage, til I read about it online. Blech. Smoking crack and doing nasty things to each other seem to be what the patrons go for, not, unfortunately, imbibing umbrella drinks in a tropical environment whilst wearing Hawaiian shirts and listening to music like this 1959 gem (recorded off my red-colored vinyl copy!) from the one-man-band master of organ exotica, Korla Pandit. It is, like much of Pandit's music (and '50s/'60s exotica in general) rich in haunting and mysterious atmosphere:
[UPDATE 7/31: New Link:]
Korla Pandit "Tropical Magic"
(After clicking the above link, scroll down for a
choice of downloading options. You may have to wait a few secs.)
1. The Breeze And I
2. Blue Moon
3. Lovely Hula Hands
4. Trade Winds
6. Lotus Love
7. Moon Of Manikoora
8. Strange Enchantment
10. Tango In D
Pandit wasn't really Indian, as he had always claimed, but was in fact an American black guy named John Roland Redd, a fact not revealed until after his death. Which was quite a shock to me - I'd actually met and spoken with the man in the '90s when he was performing around town with the Wonderful World of Joey neo-lounge revue, and never doubted his story. No-one did. He spoke to me in a soft Indian accent, and still wore the bejewelled turban that was his trademark when he used to perform daily on L.A. television back in the '50s.
So let's reclaim the Tiki Theater from the crack-heads and pervs, and put on real tiki shows. That sign's too good to waste. Do it for Korla! Or whatever his name was!